0 In Mental Health for Creatives

Wedding Industry Mental Health – Authentic Experiential Empathy

Wedding Industry Mental Health - Authentic Experiential Empathy

Many of us are aware of the difference between “empathy” and “sympathy”, and in different contexts, they are both welcome!

Sometimes however, empathy is the key and sympathy is the lock!

Let’s get out the definitions to look at…

Oxford Languages provides the following definitions…

Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Sympathy – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

It varies from person to person of course, but most people react better to having you understand and listen to them, rather that having you pity them and express sorrow for their misfortune.

This is because one brings hope, and the other highlights the problem at hand. 

Empathy is the sharing of feelings, the creation of support and understanding. Whereas sympathy is the expression of YOUR inner thoughts or emotional responses to the experiences and feelings of someone else. Your response is filtered through your experiential lens, rather than really getting involved with the other person’s feelings and points of view.

Allow me to elaborate…

I think that as humans, we’re hard wired to be in that “me too” kind of mode – the one that helps us find our tribe, the one that connects us to other likeminded people, in a meaningful and deliberate way.

But when someone is experiencing mental anguish, they’re probably on the lookout for someone to listen and for someone to care. Really, quite simply, to be accepted and to be understood.

“Me too”… well that just gets in the way of giving that person exactly what they need in that moment. And the gift you CAN give in that moment, is simply your time and your attention. Empathy is the understanding of another person’s concern. Getting alongside them so that they have a wingman, someone who cares and is willing to listen.

In some extreme cases, you might be standing by in silence, waiting to listen, because the other person isn’t talking. But that’s STILL empathy! You don’t need to say much to express empathy. Ears before lips! If you start trying to be sympathetic with some “me too” examples – you’re actually denying the other person that space to express themselves to you and to communicate what it is that they have going on.

There is really no greater gift in life than the giving of your time, because it is so limited and the single greatest resource you and I possess.

If you’re trying to comfort someone who is suffering mentally, and you’re wanting to give them some of your time, some of your attention, pay attention to whether you’re truly giving of yourself with empathy, or whether you’re trying to provide sympathy. The latter, in this context, could well be considered quite a selfish thing to do really! This would be bringing yourself into the context and putting some of the focus back on yourself.

So Authentic Experiential Empathy is the bridge between empathy and sympathy. An understanding brought about by having first hand experience of a situation, and in my case, this situational understanding is working in the Wedding Industry, combined with empathetic response and understanding…

A marriage of understandings that provide the basis of sympathy without having to involve any personal “me too” anecdotes, whilst focusing on providing empathetic response in the form of listening, and genuinely understanding the concerns of the other person.

It is the mutual understanding that feelings, when expressed in a confidential and safe protective space, are being met with a level of empathy that encompasses a large degree of first hand experience.

This is the ideal treatment for many ailments and there are countless specialists in all manner of fields who have first hand experience of the suffering for which they provide support.

Wedding Industry Mental Health was established to support Wedding Suppliers who are struggling as a result of their creative endeavours. It exists to understand the specific needs of these creative individuals, and is tailored to providing this support in the most ethical and understanding way.

Find out more about our philanthropic work with Wedding Industry Mental Health, get support or become an advocate here:

and let’s build a stronger Wedding Industry together!


Wedding Industry Mental Health - Creative Autonomy

Creativity, by it’s very nature, craves autonomy! 

How can you truly create art whilst constrained and operating within set boundaries?

Well… as Wedding Suppliers worldwide, we found a way!

And… we had to!

A Wedding Day is, by anyone’s account, a fairly scripted event – with certain things happening at certain times throughout the day.

And yes, there absolutely are exceptions to this rule, but even then… there’s still an outline. Even if it’s just to turn up somewhere at a specific time!

So Wedding Creatives have a push, pull going on! On the one hand, Weddings are just the perfect melting pot of opportunity for artistic expression. They provide the context, the canvas and the content necessary for creative endeavour!

Whether you’re a photographer, a florist, a stationer, a caterer, a celebrant, a musician, or just about anything else, there’s a commission before you that needs your creative input, and you’ve most likely been commissioned based on your unique talents and abilities – essentially, your creative flair!

But of course, you’re not off the chain! In fact, you’re very much chained (in the nicest possible way) to delivering on the expectations of your client. And this is true of every single commission you take on.

The term I’d use myself would be “working artist”.

It’s a happy middle ground where art gets made and artists get paid!

Possibly the best of both worlds!

But between the lines are the pressures of that expectation, and that, coupled with self doubt, perfectionism, imposter syndrome and all the other creative issues that arise, can leave us deflated, exhausted and full of anxiety.

Creativity does not thrive on constraint, and conversely, it cannot exist without context and content. So we ride a constant emotional rollercoaster of perpetually making, seeking, striving, doubting, conquering, collapsing, confidence making and breaking. And to top it all off, very few Wedding Creatives enjoy constantly packed out diaries.

Creativity in the Wedding Industry is a rollercoaster!

One aspect of creative autonomy is the self empowerment to recognise when things are sliding downhill for us. For recognising when our creative energies are dwindling or depleted… and acting on it!

Autonomy is the power to do for oneself, retaining control and making decisions. The support offered by Wedding Industry Mental Health is firmly rooted in this idea of self autonomy, putting you in charge. You’re free to access our support when you need it, and during our time together, the discussion will be centred around you. You lead the discussion, whilst we provide a guided framework to enable you to express what you feel is important, or needs to be heard, or needs to be understood.

We understand Creative Autonomy and we understand Self Autonomy and hold both as the very highest standard of empathetic response towards creative individuals in need.

Please go here:

and let’s build a stronger Wedding Industry together!


Wedding Industry Mental Health - Maintaining Creative Perspective

One of the hardest aspects of creativity must be maintaining an accurate perspective on the output, how it measures up, how good it is and how closely it matches the original intent of the creator.

We judge ourselves and our work, constantly!

It’s such a necessary part of making and creating. Without our inner critic, we would never develop, and art is reactive!

I don’t often draw on personal anecdotes for these articles, but today, I feel compelled to because it explains a simple mindset shift in the most accurate and accessible fashion.

As a creative person, I’m so often drawn to question whether my creative output is having sufficient impact in the world – regardless of how much success or change that output effects, the need to question it constantly, remains! And I’m not alone in this.

Ultimately, it pays to draw your focus towards a single act of impact. What is the minimum amount of impact that your artistic and creative endeavours produce? How can you quantify that into a single action – reaction?

The easiest example would be this… create a successful product or service for a client, and receive very high praise. That single act of creation has satisfied you on a creative level, and also satisfied your need to create impact. You’ve successfully impacted at least one person.

I recently took to trying to apply this theory to life. In particular, my own life and the complex web of events and experiences that constitute the makeup of the person I am today. Without these experiences and events, I would be a different person with different ideals, goals and values. 

So I tried to establish as a creative individual, what was important to me, in life.

The answer came as I was having a “clear out” of screen captures and notes saved to my cloud photo storage amidst family pictures dating back over 40 years. When I had completed this mundane task, I was left with a near perfect representation of key moments of my life, from very early childhood through to the most recent amazing memories made with my new family.

And then it hit me. Seeing my entire life in pictures clarified without any distortion for me, the beauty and almost perfect nature of single moments experienced in life. Again, back to these single transactions that quantify an exchange of value.

So the same is true of every single commission or creative endeavour created for someone else. You are a piece of that wonderful tapestry that informs the makeup of someone else’s beautiful experience. It matters more than you could ever understand. Your work is important, life shaping and irreplaceable.

So if you’re experience doubt, frustration, disappointment, anxiety or any other debilitating feelings, consider accessing our free support and just talking it through. Discover for yourself the truth of your transactional value and what it means to have provided what you have already created!

Find out more about our philanthropic work with Wedding Industry Mental Health, get support or become an advocate here:

and let’s build a stronger Wedding Industry together!


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